Troops deployed in troubled Kashmir

Soldiers take to the streets in Indian-administered Kashmir as three more protesters are killed in continuing violence.

Separatists have called for continued protests against Indian rule in Kashmir [AFP]

India has deployed soldiers on the streets of Indian-administered Kashmir, as three more people were shot dead by security forces during violent demonstrations in defiance of a curfew.

Troops were spotted on a key road in the main city of Srinagar, while residents also reported seeing soldiers in central Budgam and northern Baramulla villages.

The army was last mobilised to assist the police and paramilitary forces in July.

The latest deployment has angered separatists who resent any moves heightening the sense of occupation in the disputed Himalayan region.

“All repressive measures are being used to quell and crush the resistance movement and intimidate people for daring to raise their voice,” said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a senior separatist and leading cleric.

The Kashmir Valley is under a strict curfew for a sixth consecutive day following several deadly clashes.

Three protesters were killed on Friday after crowds defied the curfew in several villages in the area.

In a separate incident, five fighters were also shot dead in Pulwama district in a battle with Indian soldiers carrying out search operations.

New strategy

The latest mobilisation of troops is believed to be part of a new strategy to restore order following three months of violence.

Al Jazeera’s Divya Gopalan, reporting from Srinagar, said: “The army has caused casualties, people are very angry.

“Separatist leaders are calling for people to protest against the army and the army is not reacting in any peaceful way to that.

“It is the first time the army has joined the police to try and maintain law and order. The police have previously dealt with these protests.

“This is called a new joint strategy that is supposed to maintain peace in the region. It is also supposed to be in retaliation to separatist calls for people to petition army barracks on Tuesday.

“The army has said that anyone who comes near any of their barracks are strongly warned to stay away.”

A funeral was held on Friday for a young man killed in this week’s protests.

Many people came out onto the streets for the funeral in defiance of the government curfew in the region.

“People are saying no matter what the Indian government doesn now it’s too little, too late. So it doesn’t bode well for any peace process,” Gopalan said.

Mounting casualties

On Wednesday, at least five protesters were shot dead by police in the previously quiet town of Mendhar, a Muslim settlement in a Hindu-dominated area to the southwest of Kashmir, 210km from the town of Jammu.

Friday’s toll brings to 30 the number of people killed since Monday in the bloodiest days of violence in three months of protests.

On Wednesday, a cross-party meeting of political leaders in New Delhi, the Indian capital, ended with no new initiatives, but a decision was made to send a fact-finding mission to “meet all sections of the people and gather all shades of opinion”.

For three months young Kashmiris have thrown stones at security forces and rallied against Indian rule in the Muslim-majority region.

The clashes between the stone throwers and security agencies have left 93 people dead, according to a tally by the AFP news agency.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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